Category: Education News Magazine

Change maker: Transforming schools and society

Grad student and teacher Keilyn Howie (BEd’19) is a change maker. Keilyn’s lived experiences have given her a drive to make schools and society safe for racialized minorities.

Growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the 90s with a White family taught Keilyn what it feels like to be different. “I come with my own privileges because I was born and raised in Saskatchewan, but in a lot of ways as I was growing up I was made to feel very different, and it was quite obvious I was very different, and I was treated differently,” she says.

Following an initial unsuccessful attempt at university, Keilyn moved to Regina in 2011 where she met a Black professor who encouraged her to go into education: “I was helping her out at Footlocker, where I worked, and she said, ‘You would make a really great teacher! You should go into education.’”

Though Keilyn couldn’t envision herself as a teacher at the time, she was still drawn to the field of education because she had a younger brother with autism, and she had witnessed her mother’s impact as an advocate for him and his needs in the public school system. When Keilyn took a job with the Autism Resource Centre, she was motivated by their requirements to work on her Educational Assistant (EA) certificate.

Later, in 2014, while working with Regina Public Schools (RPS) as an EA, Keilyn had the privilege of working with a teacher who inspired her to become a teacher: “I was with an amazing educator who was so inspirational, just the way she worked with students. I was so touched and moved and I thought ‘I want to be like that.’ She encouraged me to go to university to get my education degree.” The RPS community school she was working in also affected Keilyn: “Education looked different in a community school, just the impact you could have as a teacher. I felt that I could contribute something, just through the relationships formed with students. Teaching is so relationship based, especially in a community school. I felt that who I am and my experiences and lenses would fit well in a community school setting.”

With all this encouragement, Keilyn finally decided to become a teacher. She entered the Elementary Education program at the University of Regina and found the experience life changing. “The first class was BAM, so eye opening;” Keilyn says, “Dr. Carol Schick’s class gave me the language to describe my experience. Growing up in Saskatchewan, we didn’t really talk about race and racism. Especially when I was growing up in the 90s, there wasn’t a lot of diversity; it was a pretty lonely world. I learned the language for the world around me, to name, recognize, and address oppression and racism in different forms. I’ve been drawn to this work in this field ever since.”

Reflecting further on Dr. Schick’s class, Keilyn says, “My identity was being validated in that class—to learn that this is how society is and that it needs to change. Before I had thought it was just me that needed to change. Even for the other students in the class to learn the language of anti-racism and anti-oppression … it wasn’t only my introduction to this language, it was also new to my peers. I remember another person in the class making sense of intersectionality and binaries, saying, ‘So if you’re a woman and you’re Black, it’s like a double negative?’ It was so jarring for me to hear that, but at least he was trying to make sense of it, and he was realizing that somebody who looks like me has a lot more to overcome than somebody who looks like him. Even with moments like that, as hard as they are to hear, there is hope: people are still learning, and people are changing, and it gives me much hope for the future.”

In her third year of university, Keilyn experienced her first Black professor, Dr. Barbara McNeil, who had encouraged her while she worked at Footlocker: “I think that shows how important representation is. I had lived my whole life with White teachers who never told me that I could be a teacher or that I would be a great teacher. I didn’t feel seen when I was growing up, didn’t see myself reflected in the classroom. I didn’t see Black kids in books or hear Black voices. It inhibited my identity growth for a long time.”

After graduating in 2019, Keilyn began her teaching career in a community school. Just one month later, she was challenged by the pandemic and the movement to remote teaching. The pandemic, she says “really opened my eyes to some of the inequities that community schools face, so I really wanted to become an advocate for these communities. That’s been driving me ever since.”

To make the changes that are needed, Keilyn is active with her Division’s Diversity Steering Committee and an Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppressive Advisory Committee. “All of these experiences over many years have put me in a place to speak and advocate for people in these communities, to advocate for the change that is so desperately needed in our Division, not only in community schools. The necessary conversations are being shied away from and I really want to be the voice to open those doors and make it seem less daunting to talk about what’s right, justice and equity, even with my young students.”

Now in her third year of teaching, Keilyn brings all of her personal and professional experiences, to her classroom of Grades 1 and 2 students at Thomson Community School in Regina. “I just love it here. Being a person of colour is really helpful in a community school. The demographics in a community school are diverse and representation is so important. With my experiences, I feel I’m able to connect with these students and even their parents who might be new to the country, or who might have some generational mistrust of schools.”

In her master’s program in education, Keilyn is planning her thesis and anticipates exploring anti-Black racism in Saskatchewan. “It’s such a big void, but it’s something I still personally experience and I’m from Saskatchewan so I can only imagine what other people are experiencing.”

Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission model, Keilyn says, “First there needs to be truth so we can get at what the issue is, how deep this issue is, what we even need to address, and then working on the action pieces to follow: How can we create these changes? How can we create more safe and inclusive spaces?”

With her work to make change in education, Keilyn hopes we can “re-imagine education. I think we can use education as a tool to transform schools and societies. [see K. Kumashira’s anti-oppressive model]. We can make sure that kids don’t go through what I went through when I was younger.” Keilyn summarizes with a quote by Ivan Fitzwater, saying, “The future of the world is in my classroom today.”

Keilyn’s Recommendations for Safe, Inclusive Classrooms

A foundation of belonging. Creating a classroom climate where kids feel safe and have a sense of belonging is important for them to learn. Keilyn says, “I’m intentional about making sure they all see themselves in the classroom. Even little things like this board on wall (see photo left.) My students love it. It builds that community.” This sense of belonging is fostered by several aspects in Keilyn’s teaching:

Conversations guided by great literature. Having a great selection of books with diverse topics and characters is Keilyn’s top teaching best practice suggestion. She says, “I don’t use a lot of pencils and papers, or worksheets. I teach through conversations, started with high quality literature. We have amazing conversations. Books are so important. I aim for three read alouds every day. I look for a books that match what I want to achieve. I don’t just read the book and move on. We talk about it. I ask them ‘What are your questions?’ which is more inviting than ‘Are there any questions?’ I am honest when I don’t know the answer to their question and we research it together.”

Responsive teaching. Part of creating a sense of belonging is being guided by the interests of students and their identities. Keilyn says, “I try to be culturally responsive. I use that globe all of the time because we are always talking about who we are as people and how we are all connected on this beautiful land. If I get a new student, we pull out the globe and look at where they come from and what languages they speak. If they are comfortable, they tell us about that, and we learn some of their language. It’s really important to me to let the kids be leaders and to introduce them to as many viewpoints as possible.”

Flexibility. Flexibility with daily plans is another aspect of Keilyn’s responsive teaching. “I’m very flexible–I have my day plans, if I veer from that, it’s okay. Listening to students and where they are at and what they are wondering might be the most important thing you do that day. If something negative happens, such as an experience of racism, stop your lesson to address what is happening because that will be the most important lesson of their day. We want students to feel seen and validated, so if we brush off their experiences or the things they are feeling, that’s not going to help them, the classroom climate, or the world. We have to address these things as they come up.”

Critical self-reflection. Keilyn adds that critical self-reflection is another important piece of developing a culture of belonging: “Teachers need to keep educating themselves about, for example, anti-racism. This is a pretty new field for a lot, especially in Saskatchewan. Teaching is so influential because were not just teaching the curriculum but also the hidden curriculum. If you don’t take the time to address your lenses or biases that you might be bringing, you might just be perpetuating those norms.”

Decolonize and Indigenize. Keilyn is working to decolonize and Indigenize her classroom as well. Walking into her classroom, one immediately sees the bundles of wild sage hanging on the door, which were gifted to her class. The next thing you might see is the classroom treaty that she and her students develop at the beginning of each year. Keilyn explains this activity is “a simple way to talk about treaty and historical context.”

Using the resources she finds through the School Division, Keilyn develops new opportunities to start conversations about what people have experienced, what they did historically, how newcomer settlement affected their lives, and how to get back to learning on the land. “I invite a lot of guest speakers into the classroom and I have the school Elder come in once a week to spend times with kids.”

Le Bac student helping to preserve Indigenous languages

4th-Year Baccalauréat en Éducation (Français) student Wahbi Zarry has beaten pandemic odds with his recently released video, 10 Days of Nakota, the second in a series of educational documentaries exploring Indigenous languages.

Produced and directed by Wahbi with director of photography and editor Tony Quiñones, the video documents Wahbi’s educational journey as he learns to speak Nakota in 10 days. The first video, 10 Days of Cree, was released in 2020. Despite the upheaval of the pandemic, including the loss of his father and uncle, Wahbi persevered to finish both his studies and the second video.

Wahbi conceived of the idea of the educational language videos after realizing how existing documentaries about Indigenous languages were slow-paced, not reflecting the vibrancy of the communities documented. “I mean there is no movement. We get the wrong idea about these communities. They are not at all like the documentaries; they are working, there are schools, there are education programs, people are fighting for their language, their culture, and I wanted to show it differently,” says Wahbi.

As a French language speaker who was born in Morocco and grew up in Paris, France, and who immigrated to Canada, where he learned English, and now Cree and Nakoda, Wahbi understands the value of language. “For me a language is what culture sounds like. Language is the mirror of culture. Losing the language is losing the communication part in a culture,” Wahbi is concerned about the loss of Indigenous languages worldwide. To save Indigenous languages, Wahbi says, we must “include the youth and create entertainment to learn this language.”

Enter: Crocus BigEagle and an entertaining video documenting Wahbi’s attempt to learn Nakota in 10 days.

Photo credit: Tony Quiñones.

In 10 Days of Nakota, 10-year-old Crocus BigEagle was Wahbi’s Nakota teacher; he smiles as he says, “She was sufficiently strict.” Their interactions are lighthearted and humorous. The final exam is conducted by the only remaining fluent speaker of Nakota, Elder Peter Bigstone (Ocean Man Nakoda First Nation). To receive his Nakota education, Wahbi moves from Ocean Man First Nation, to Regina, to Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation, and finally to Pheasant Rump Nakota First Nation. While the video’s tone is entertaining and heart-warming, that there is only one fluent speaker left is felt poignantly.

Wahbi says, “When it comes to Indigenous language in general, it is something extremely important. What kinds of structures do we have to protect these languages?” Officialization of Indigenous languages is one of the solutions Wahbi suggests: “What we do for the French language needs to happen for Indigenous languages.” Wahbi adds, “Braille and sign language should also be official languages.”

By producing these videos, Wahbi says he has learned to think differently about the concept of identity: “I grew up in Europe where the concept of identity is considered a bit of racism, or chauvinism, but in the Indigenous communities of Canada, identity means something else: language, culture, including others, it means sharing the knowledge. Now I see identity really differently than before.”

Parts of the video were intentionally filmed on the University of Regina campus. Wahbi says, “I did very good to apply to the University of Regina. It is very important to me to represent the University. Being a student here was a blessing.” Wahbi funded these videos himself as a gift, a way of giving back to Canada, a country he says, “gave me the opportunities I needed to do what I wanted to do.”

As a result of the documentaries, Wahbi has been contacted by Indigenous communities and others from around the world. His videos have cleared up a misconception that “All First Nations speak the same language.” Wahbi hopes the next video will be set in New Zealand, learning the Māori language in 10 days.

Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzIBEZIBrps

Spring 2022 Education News

Click image to access the animated copy of Education News.

In this issue:
A note from the Dean….. 3
Change maker: Tranforming schools and society….. 4
Alumna envisions schools as environments of empowerment….. 10
Why become a teacher? To be a role model….. 16
Alumnus positively influencing change….. 20
Le Bac student helping to preserve Indigenous languages….. 22
Teaching hard truths in a positive way: Kâsinamakewin….. 24
De/colonising Educational Relationships….. 29
Study informs services and supports for South Central Saskatchewan newcomers….. 30
Equity, diversity, and inclusion research partnership agreement announced….. 32
Successful defences….. 34
Funding and awards….. 35
Published research….. 36
New book….. 38
Long service recognition….. 38
New staff|New position….. 39
Student fundraising….. 40

Education News | Autumn 2021 issue


In This Issue:

A note from the Dean…..3
Stories about Indigenous education and unmarked gravesites in Canada…..4
Artistic expressions: masinahikêwin yêkâhk/ Writing in the sand poem…..10
Inaugural Gabriel Dumont Research Chair in Métis/Michif Education…..13
Education Students’ Society Truth and Reconciliation Week events…..16
Candidate for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral Awards 2021-2022 competition…..17
“I need to be in the quinzhee, not just talk about it!” Embodying our pedagogy…..18
Pimosayta: Learning to walk together slideshow…..21
Les étudiants du Bac mènent les activités de la Journée nationale de vérité et de réconciliation…..22
Le Bac student activities…..23
Funding and awards…..24
New faculty and staff…..26
Retirements…..27
Published research…..28

A conversation with Dr. Melanie Brice

In June, the Faculty of Education launched the inaugural Gabriel Dumont Research Chair in Métis/Michif Education. Dr. Melanie Brice was appointed to the Chair for a 5-year term. With the establishment of this new Chair, the first in a Faculty of Education in Canada, and many other endeavours toward Truth and Reconciliation, the Faculty continues to demonstrate a concerted and sustained commitment to teaching and research that is engaging faculty, students, and other education stakeholders in gaining a deeper understanding of our shared histories and a reconciliatory approach to a more just future.Dr. Melanie Brice’s upbringing as a Michif (Métis): “A Culture of Place”

Dr. Melanie Brice, a Michif (Métis) born in Meadow Lake and raised at Jackfish Lake, Saskatchewan, has a strong understanding of Indigenous histories, cultures, languages and literacies, perspectives, educational experiences, and cross-cultural education issues. However, Melanie didn’t start out with this understanding. “SUNTEP was pivotal in helping me see how all my experiences growing up were an important part of my identity. I knew that I was Métis and what that meant. With SUNTEP, I learned how to integrate these understandings into my teaching and how to explain them to others.” says Melanie.

“Most of my childhood recollections are around time spent at my grandparents’ ranch, north of Meadow Lake. I had a charmed childhood, living at the lake, and spending holidays at the ranch, riding horses and playing with my cousins,” says Melanie. Her family had instilled values that she understands as Métis: “I was always told, ‘Be proud. We are hard-working people.’ And constantly reminded that family is important,” says Melanie.

Genealogy is another interesting aspect of her Métis upbringing. Because Melanie is fair, her grandfather used to call her “wapistikwaan,” meaning “white head” and she wonders if he talked a lot about their genealogy because he knew there would come a time when she would be questioned. “Interesting, with everything going on around identity fraud,” Melanie says. “One reason genealogy is part of Métis culture is because we are always asked to prove our identity. We didn’t have the same recognition, rights, or status around the Indian Act.” Quoting 20th Century activist and Métis, Howard Adams, she says, “We are the forgotten people.”

From her genealogy, Melanie mentions ancestors such as Cuthbert Grant Jr, “considered warden of the prairie, one of the Métis leaders when Métis people became political with the Battle of Seven Oaks,” says Melanie, and Cyprien Morin and his wife Marie Morin who were among the first to settle at Meadow Lake in the late 1800s. “Hearing these stories when you are young, you realize, this is who your family is.” Melanie says, “That family is large, with many people descending from Cuthbert in the south and Cyprien in the north. I have family everywhere—many cousins as part of a large extended family. There is kinship among community.”

When thinking about how her upbringing gave her a sense of belonging, Melanie quotes bell hooks calling this sense “a culture of place.” “All of those experiences growing up,” she says, “and knowing you are related to so many people, shapes your understanding of how you see yourself and your place in the world, and the willingness you have to get to know other people and work with other people.”

The Misconceptions Around the Term “Métis”

Misunderstandings and misconceptions exist around the term, “Métis.” Melanie says, “I get frustrated when I tell somebody I’m Métis and they automatically think that means ‘mixed’ or worse, the derogatory ‘half breed.’ We are a distinct people with a distinct culture. We are our own, not half of anything!”

A pan-Indigenous misconception of what it means to be Métis has also been an issue. Melanie says, “I’ve been questioned my entire life about my identity.” However, Melanie looks at the questions she is asked, “Not as a challenge but as an opportunity to be able to share with people what it means to be Métis,” she says, adding that there are many variables involved in claiming the identity, not the least of which is to have connection with your community. “We have a nation. I don’t say I’m a member of the Métis. I’m a citizen in the Métis Nation. There is more than just genealogy and being accepted by a community. You also need to give back,” says Melanie.

The Importance and Activities of the Gabriel Dumont Research Chair in Métis/Michif Education

Melanie feels excited and thankful about being the first Chair: “I’m thankful to the Dean and GDI. Without the work they did, this Chair wouldn’t be possible,” she says. There have been similar chairs in Métis studies, in history and Indigenous studies, but this is the first in education.

It’s important, Melanie says, because “of the impact that education has on change, changing lives, influencing how we see ourselves and others.” Melanie hopes to bring a stronger Métis presence into curriculum, “impacting future generations with what we have contributed and continue to contribute to education.” She is excited to engage with other Métis scholars across the country to understand their research and the work they are doing to affect Métis/Michif education.

Another aspect of the Chair Melanie values is the opportunities it brings for enhanced academic engagement with GDI and SUNTEP. Melanie already has a long-standing relationship with GDI and SUNTEP as an alumna and former faculty while she was working on her PhD. She is excited that the Chair brings her back into teaching at SUNTEP. “Working with GDI and talking about what are some of the priorities right now, and how can we work together to achieve some of those priorities—That’s the really important piece: having something that responds to our community’s needs. The Chair can put those things forward.”

The Kaa-tipeyimishoyaahk–We Own Ourselves Project. Working around the issue of identity, one of the big projects that Melanie hopes to engage with as Chair is to research Métis/Michif Education. She says, “The word Kaa-tipeyimishoyaahk—We are a people who own ourselves (Gaudry, A. 2014)—was given to me by Michif elder, Norman Fleury. There has been a lot of research around Indigenous education. However, it is done in either a pan-Indigenous view or it is First Nations. There isn’t a lot of research on Métis/Michif learning. I definitely want to focus on bringing that into academia, supporting the teaching at SUNTEP.” The We Own Ourselves project is supporting this goal. Melanie is talking to elders and old ones, and Métis educators and scholars to find out what they need. She is also part of her own research project, learning northern Michif from a fluent speaker.

Language and Cultural Revitalization. According to the Statistics Canada 2016 census, with a rising population of 51.2%, the Métis were the fastest growing population in Canada between 2006 and 2016. However, less than 2% of Métis people speak the Michif language, making the Michif language one of the most vulnerable Indigenous languages in Canada.

Through the chair, Melanie intends to build capacity in Métis/Michif education by focusing on language and cultural revitalization along with research, learning, knowledge keeping, reconciliation, and inclusion.

Not everyone has had the same cultural experiences and opportunities as Melanie. Her daughters, whom she raised in the city, didn’t have the same experiences: “Even though I thought I did such a good job with my daughters, instilling in them a strong sense of their Métis identity, they didn’t have those kinds of lived experiences—cultural knowledge from being in community and at gatherings,” says Melanie. Over the years, Melanie has also seen a change in SUNTEP’s scope, in that when she went through the program, “SUNTEP taught Métis people how to be teachers. Now because of how successful colonization has been it is more like teaching students how to be Métis and how to be teachers.”

Melanie clarifies that the culture has not disappeared. “Culture is still there; it’s just not taken up in the same kind of way because of how families have moved away. That’s why it is important to be more explicit in terms of naming.”

Dreaming Big. Research on Métis ways of learning, knowing, and being is important; however, Melanie is concerned about the dearth of Métis researchers and PhD students. When asked to dream about the possibilities if unlimited resources were available, Melanie says she would like to see “fully funded Métis graduate students—students pursuing their PhDs without having to leave their communities or give up their income.” She recognizes that this would be tricky because there is value in doing a residency component; “Yet,” she says, “I can see where a move away from family and supports is a huge obstacle for potential students.” Another dream of Melanie’s is, “to adequately compensate our elders, old ones, and knowledge and culture keepers who are so pivotal to the research.”

Stories about Indigenous education and unmarked gravesites in Canada

Dr. Angelina Weenie is a Plains Cree from Sweetgrass First Nation in Treaty 6 territory.

My TRC story is not the typical story as I did not attend residential school; I went to Sweetgrass Day School. My parents attended Delmas Residential School. It is about 10 miles from our reserve. My two sisters and my brother attended Lebret Residential School. My other sister attended St. Gabriel’s High in Biggar, Saskatchewan. They each had different experiences. It is hard for me to write about others’ experiences. It is their story, and they are not here anymore. It is not my place to write about them, but they need to be honoured and not forgotten.

I do understand why I carry a deep sense of loneliness and sadness. It must emanate from my parents and my brother and sisters and what they went through when they were taken from their families and from their homes. My father was interviewed by the Leader-Post in 1990. He talked about how the nuns would call them savages.

Lebret is far from our home (about a 5-hour drive). Sweetgrass is west of Battleford, Saskatchewan. I remember when the big yellow school buses would arrive to pick up the children. I can only imagine how lonely, lost, and scared they would be to go so far away from home. I also have a photo from my sister Lorraine’s Grade 12 graduation. My parents, my grandparents, and the principal from our school travelled to Lebret. This was a grand occasion for my family. My grandfather stood proudly in his chief’s outfit (See photos below).

These memories are about how First Nations people believed in education. Education has always been important to us. The outcomes were different in many situations but, ultimately, First Nations people wanted their children to succeed. Our parents instilled the importance of education in us and supported us. We come from a nation of proud and resilient people.

_______________________________________________________

Dr. Anna-Leah King is an Odawa/Potawattimi originally from Wikwemikong.

When Angelina and I heard of the reveal of 215 unmarked gravesites at Kamloops, British Columbia’s former Indian Residential School (IRS) site, it affirmed horror for Indigenous survivors. In response, we hosted a feast at First Nations University (FNUC). This connected us as we knew we both had in one way or another the IRS experience in common and were pondering what to do and recognizing the sense of heavy spirit that was overtaking everyone. It was a positive and constructive measure.

This news report was only the beginning. A short time later, at Marieval Indian Residential School on Cowessess Reserve, Saskatchewan, another ground-penetrating search was conducted, which found 751 gravesites. The IRS survivors were always aware these gravesites existed and the news was no surprise. Some survivors have shared their stories with each other and with others who did not attend a residential school, but have not always been believed, even by their own people. Being believed about their collective horrific experiences that took place at Indian Residential School has been a long time coming. Some shared testimonials with the Truth and Reconciliation commission. In fact, this is where the sharing of these gravesites began. The then Chief Justice Murray Sinclair recommended in the TRC Calls to Action to have ground searches done at every residential school across Canada to finally reveal these gravesites publicly (TRC, 2015). And so it began, ground searches across Canada, to the 139 Indian Residential Schools, to uncover gravesites verifying the tragic end of innocent children’s lives who came to their deaths at the hands of abusive nuns and priests. The stories of these now Keteyak (Old Ones) will never be forgotten.

I remember my Elder and dear friend, the late Laura Wasacase, sharing some of the experiences she and her friends encountered at the Indian Residential schools. Some women heard the babies cry at night but there were no babies in the morning. Some witnessed horrendous physical abuse. Some saw a fellow student “fall out” the second floor window to her death, learning later of the possibility that she was pushed because the next girl held on tight and prepared herself not to “fall out” when left alone with an angry nun.

These ground searches at Kamloops and Cowessess were the first of many that would take place across the country in every residential schoolyard. The grand tally will not be known until all the ground searches are completed. As of today there are 1,800 unmarked graves estimated of which former Chief Justice Senator Sinclair estimates numbers could be anywhere from 6,000 to 25,000. The heartache and pain of the survivors’ traumatic memories stirred up is no less for the survivors of the survivors.

I thought about my mother and father who attended Spanish Indian Residential School in Spanish, Ontario. It was run by the Catholic Jesuit Order. There were two school buildings: Garnier was the boys’ school and St. Joseph’s the girls’ school. My father had chosen building maintenance for his obligatory chore. He told me one day when I was a young adult how he recalled making the crosses for the boys that died there during the school year. He reflected on the insensitivity of the “black robes” as they callously informed the parents of the passing of their child in that school year. My parents never shared much of what took place there until late in life when more news stories frequented the print media. My mother was in her 70s when she first began to share experiences. She and my Auntie would recall “Bologna Legs” as they referred to a nun who was particularly cruel to them.

These schools ran from 1870s to 1990s and some were open for over 100 years (Restoule, 2013). The Canadian government and the churches aligned forces to “kill the Indian in the child.” Assimilation was their point and purpose by order of John A. McDonald. The truth was, they exercised genocidal practises on the children in every form of abuse possible. Although many priests have been reported for their sex offences towards children, only some have been charged. The United Church of Canada in Sudbury, Ontario was the first to publicly apologize in 1986 for the atrocious wrongs that were committed against Indigenous children at these schools. The same cannot be said for the Roman Catholic Church. Of the 130 schools, most of them were run by the Roman Catholic Missionary congregations. The Vatican refuses to apologize despite Justin Trudeau’s efforts in 2017. On September 24th, 2021, at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, an official apology was issued for their role in the IRS, succumbing to public pressure (Warburton, 2021).

Click to download full Cecil King's full op-ed
Click to download Cecil King’s full op-ed

I conclude with my father, Cecil King’s, words with regards to reconciliation that he shared in a piece for the TRC. My father was encouraged to become a teacher in the 12th grade. This he did, spending 50 years in education as a teacher, professor, researcher, consultant and teacher of teachers. He is the creator and founder of the Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) and former Dean of the Saskatoon Campus First Nations University. My father advises to strive for “bonnigi deh taadewin” an Ojibwe phrase meaning “the process of pushing the badness out of your heart.” He suggests that everyone needs to get out of the dialogue of the mind and speak from our hearts, including politicians, bureaucrats, and the general population, before any true reconciliation can happen (2015, TRC).

Additional Note: Dr. Cecil King will be publishing his memoir titled: The Boy from Buzwah in February 2022 through the University of Regina Press.

 

Science kits make remote learning effective and engaging

Take-home science education lab kits were a great way developed by the science education instructional team to overcome the difficulties of teaching and learning science education remotely.

Teaching remotely has been challenging for many professors who are accustomed to face-to-face classroom instruction and methods. Transitioning into remote teaching environments is especially difficult for activity-based subject areas such as science education. Science education professor Dr. Shana Graham says, “the biggest challenge in teaching science during the pandemic is to find ways for students to engage in experiential learning.”

Science education professor John MacDonald concurs, “The learning of science content, skills and attitudes are all greatly facilitated by having the learners interact with the phenomena that illustrate the concept under study. Students communicating their observations and inferences with classmates is also an essential part of learning about the nature of science. Added in to the mix is the importance of students exchanging their reasoning as to how the activities add to their understanding of the concept and connecting this new found understanding to prior knowledge.”

In a previous term, professor Michael McCoy had developed math kits to help students engage with concepts and he found them successful.

“John, Shana and I decided the best way to go about teaching science education remotely was to develop a kit for our science methods classes,” says McCoy.

MacDonald, who had found that moving back to the university lab to teach had been helpful in that it “afforded access to materials and equipment not present in a home office,” knew students would also need to have access to materials to learn: “The kits were our attempt to provide our students with an opportunity to experience the activities that they should be using in their future classrooms.” The three professors put together 100 science kits for their elementary and secondary science methods classes.

Developing the kits during a pandemic presented some new problems. MacDonald says, “We had very little problem coming up with activities for the students to do. The real problems were finding sources for the materials that could provide them in a timely manner. Ordering balances and magnets from China was much easier than obtaining materials from Ontario.”

MacDonald says, “The reaction of the students to the activities seems to be largely very positive. Some activities we picked turned out to be less effective at a distance than face-to-face. We now have a better understanding of what constitutes a good at-a-distance activity and how to structure these activities for success. Doing activities at a distance should also help improve running these activities in a face-to-face setting.”

Besides the use of take-home science kits, Graham says she adopted a different way of teaching: “I found myself practicing more guided inquiry with my students, instead of coupled or full inquiry. When you cannot walk a round a classroom and observe students in order to determine how they are engaging and find ways to encourage them, you need to improvise. I found the use of guided inquiry created a less stressful and more encouraging online environment for online learning.”

Science education student Jaclyn Kearley says, “I think having this science kit … made learning more accessible in the virtual learning classroom. It kept me interested and engaged, and I felt like I was having a much higher quality learning experience than I would if we didn’t have the materials to interact with. In a virtual classroom, the science kits are an incredible tool!!!”

Student Ireland Sorestad says, “Getting the chance to use these science kits … made me excited to come to class as I knew I would get to be hands on. Compared to my other classes where I listened to lectures for hours, ESCI 310 was a breath of fresh air. Ultimately, I look forward to continuing using the science kit and implementing some of these activities in my future classroom.”

One student, Robertson, a mother of two, says, “This has been an extremely beneficial experience as I have learned an abundance of ways to incorporate the contents of this kit into the elementary classroom. Beyond this, it’s pretty incredible to see how much one can learn and experience from the comfort of one’s own home.”

Robertson continues, “Not only have I gained knowledge from this class but so have my daughters, who are ages 8 and 9. Mr. McCoy was kind enough to let my children join in the fun and learning. They looked forward to our Thursday night classes very much and I appreciate it as well.”

Robertson outlines some of the topics explored with the kit and the methods used in the course: “We explored forces and motion using toy cars and ramps (ruler and books), electricity as we saw what happens when you bring a negatively charged balloon close to a stream of water, investigating UV intensity with UV beads, aerodynamics using two cans and a straw and the list goes on. Throughout these Zoom classes, we have had the chance to formulate questions, design procedures, collect data and create explanations based on what we see. I never had this experience as an elementary school student, but I am sure I would have learned so much more if I had. My science class experience included reading a textbook and memorizing the terms to regurgitate on an exam or worksheet. It was quite mundane and not very stimulating for the mind. On the other hand, these classes have been exciting and inspiring. I have enjoyed watching my daughters learn how to think for themselves as they join me in these experiments. I appreciate this and want to do the same for my future students, as it not only betters them as individuals in the science classroom, but for life in general.”

Student Lakeland Scriver describes their experience of the kits: “Our professors gave us the kits with little to no explanation as to the contents outside of safety concerns. I love this: It makes the science kits feel magical. I may not know what an object or a chemical or a container might be used for, but I know that when the mystery is revealed, it will be spectacular. My professors are big advocates for inquiry-driven learning and having us investigate rather than go through cookbook experiments. This method helped capture our attention—no matter where we were attending class. I commend my professors for taking the time to put these kits together, and for having the patience to walk us through all of the activities remotely.” (See Scriver’s full story on the next page)

Professor Graham says, “The pandemic has not been easy for many people to deal with, so I have tried to be as flexible as possible with assignment deadlines. Similarly, my main goal is to push my students to excel to the best of their capacity, so I also allow them to resubmit work that is subpar. The point of teaching, in my mind, is to do whatever it takes to help someone learn and grow. It can be most rewarding when you help students to have higher expectations of themselves by insisting on setting the bar high and offering multiple chances to reach it, rather than having them, or you, settling for anything less.

I hope that my students take away that being patient, flexible, and caring are perhaps some of the most important elements of effective learning/teaching relationships.”

With students taking away those important lessons about caring for their future students, there is something to be grateful for in a trying time, an unexpected moment of grace coming out of the pandemic.

Moveable Pulley Photos

Of the science kits, student Chandra Palazzo says, “The kits were very helpful and interactive, making science come alive in these times when we cannot meet in the classroom. It gives hand- on learners a great visual rather than focusing too much on content heavy material. Without the science kits, it would be very hard to understand the concepts, tactics and science terms that come along with each activity.”

Spring 2021 issue of Education News magazine

The spring 2021 issue of Education News is out in a new animated format! This is a themed issue of Faculty of Education students and faculty reflect on unexpected gifts and moments of grace coming out of a difficult and challenging time. Read about Education student experiences of learning and teaching during a pandemic, about science kits developed by our science education team to give students an engaging, hands-on learning experience, reflections on gifts of the pandemic by some of our Indigenous Advisory Group, a poem on Being Blessed, the Medicine Garden Project that is assisting Indigenous Elders, a teacher-researcher who explored the question “What actions can a school community take to engage in the TRC Calls to Action to become a site where truth and reconciliation become possible?” for his doctoral research, the digital literacies and pedagogies PD offered to preservice teachers, the joy of community developed in a Le Bac Arts Education class, and more! Visit the link below to download your free copy!

In this issue:
Table of Contents

From the dean’s desk……….3
Science kits make remote learning effective and engaging…………….4
Student experiences of learning and teaching during a pandemic……..6
Reflections on gifts of the pandemic…..8
Being Blessed poem……….9
Medicine Garden Project assists Indigenous Elders……….10
Teacher-researcher spotlight……….11
Digital literacies and pedagogies PD……….13
Notre communauté d’artistes trouve son inspiration dans la nature……..14
University of Regina 3MT® competition winner……….17
Grad student honoured with Alumni Award: Jacq Brasseur……………17
Alumni Award recipient: Christine Selinger…………18
Alumni Award recipient: Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth…….19
GA Award recipients……….19
Funded research ………….20
Graduate student scholarships winter 2021 20
Retirements ……….21
New staff……….22
Long Service Awards……….22
New appointment……….22
Published research……..23
Event………24

Researching representational practices in musical theatre

Dr. Sara Schroeter Assistant Professor – Arts Education, Drama Education

When Sara Schroeter set out to attend a local musical theatre production one evening, an outing with one of her children, she didn’t expect she would have to have difficult conversations with her family because of the problematic racial representations.

“As a mother of mixed-race children, when I started going to the musical theater and seeing the problematic representations and after talking with my husband and hearing him say the damage was already done, and that this was one of many, many experiences that our children will have, that they might not understand right now, but one day they will, and these experiences will have an accumulated impact [sigh]—that’s when I realized that this is what we are doing with musicals.”

Musical theatre is a popular and traditional feature in many high schools across North America, including Regina. When Schroeter first joined the Faculty of Education as an assistant professor of arts and drama education, she realized she needed to gain a better understanding of musical theatre:

“Musical theatre is what many of my students in Arts Ed understood theatre to be. I needed to better understand what’s going on in musical theatre. I was told that musicals are really big for the local high schools and the community attends these musical shows.”

Schroeter set out to investigate and says, “I went to two musical theatre productions the first year I was here and both had really problematic representations of either race or gender and sexuality—some of the most troubling representations that I have seen recently, certainly something I didn’t expect to see in 2016.”

Her experiences caused Schroeter to start questioning the pedagogical value of musical theatre. She wondered where teachers were drawing their inspiration from and how they were contending with issues of representation in a field that, she says, “is known to have quite a problematic history.”

In 2018, Schroeter’s wondering turned into a University of Regina, President’s Seed Funded research project entitled, “Staging Difference: Examining Representational Practices in Musical Theatre Productions in Regina Schools and on Professional Stages.”

Though a drama educator, this exploration into musical theatre has been a new focus for Schroeter, whose research has mostly focused on youth representations of self and other through drama.

“I study applied theatre and drama in education, and am interested in youth making their own stories and telling their own stories. My research has also examined representational practices, often drawing on critical race theory and cultural studies,” says Schroeter.

Schroeter’s research project involves two parts: “Part of my research is to look at what is going on in high schools, interviewing teachers, and part of it is to go and see contemporary progressive shows, or shows said to be doing progressive things.”

Though her research is not complete yet, and no in-depth analysis has been done on the data, Schroeter is able to share some of her understanding of the issues so far.

Musical theatre productions are essentially money makers, Schroeter says. As such, “they are meant to have an appeal to a large audience. To do this, they rely heavily on stereotypes and tropes to make easily recognizable characters so that everybody knows what story is being told. These representations always comes with issues.”

When musicals are purchased for reproduction at the high school level, as commercial enterprises, strictly guided by copyright law, there is little room for local teachers to make adaptations. This is a problem because, Schroeter says, there are “so many ways in which race, religion, and gender and heteronormativity are written into the productions as a way of telling a particular story about how Americans see themselves and the image they want to portray in American society.”

Summarizing Hoffman (2014) in The Great White Way, Schroeter says, “the musical is in essence part and parcel of the invention of Americanism and white supremacy, with roots in minstrel shows from the 1800s and early 1900s when performers did dress up with blackface, and used quintessential stereotypes, such as mammy.”

As a form of public pedagogy, Schroeter views high school musical theatre as “teaching all of those things that make up what we are understanding and learning—how we construct knowledge.” Referencing Donatella Galella’s work, Schroeter says that “musical theatre is a form of public pedagogy because it tells us stories about who we are and who we imagine ourselves to be.”

As an example, Schroeter points to Hamilton (2015), which is purported to be a very progressive musical production. She says, “Hoffman (2014) writes about songs in musicals, such as the song for change. The main character goes through immense change and the person who sings the song for change is usually a white character who has multiple dimensions, whereas characters of colour are presented as flat characters; they stay the same throughout the show. Hamilton (2015) plays with this by representing white characters through actors of colour. Actors of colour get to play this range of emotion and change, but it is still problematic because they are still representing White folks, so they haven’t changed and disrupted what happens in the structure of the musical.”

Schroeter highlights other problems with Hamilton (2015): “The way the American history is told through hip hop makes history relevant, but it also makes the history irrelevant, because it is a story from which the actors of colour in the cast have historically been excluded—in some ways a re-appropriation. Why aren’t they telling the story of the Haitian revolution or of the theft of lands; there are so many others stories that could have been told that would be relevant to the students who would then see their histories represented in the play. Instead they are being told what is ultimately a white story—a slave-owning story—that has been re-imagined to maybe include the possibility of mixed heritage in Alexander Hamilton, which perpetuates the idea that he was mixed race, but we don’t know that.”

Though musical theatre is problematic, Schroeter understands that it fulfills a purpose: “The musical fills this void in not requiring audiences to work very hard to understand what is going on in the story,” she says. Musicals also “bring various departments, music, dance, theatre, and art departments together for these wide scale productions that involve a lot of kids.”

Schroeter clarifies her position saying, “I’m not taking away from the bonding experience or artistic learning, but I want to know what these productions do to us as a public, pedagogically, and to students in particular, and also to acknowledge, as Gastambide-Fernandez & Parekh found in their 2017 study of arts programs, who is included in those productions and who is excluded historically in drama and theatre programs in our schools.” Schroeter is encouraged that increasingly IBPOC scholars, educators, and artists are raising their voices about this exclusion in representation and taking on leadership roles in musical theatre, such as director and producer.

Schroeter still wants to see plays integrate music and art with drama, but she would love to see them be stories relevant to youth. “I’m not going to deny that kids want to do Grease (1971). I get that teachers are in a delicate position of having to do what kids want and push them.”

Avant garde theatre is one alternative to musicals because “avant garde theatre artists are often trying to avoid stereotypes or trouble the tropes. Then you get really controversial theatre because opinion is divided—with some hating and some loving it,” says Schroeter. Likewise, “when you make original theatre and stories told by students and their points of views, sometimes parents don’t like the stories that kids have to tell and sometimes the stories are experimental and people don’t get it.”

Through interviews with local drama teachers, Schroeter is finding some teachers “that just won’t do the musical because they are going to create plays that involve music and singing, but not musicals—once you open that door, you can’t close it because that is what people will want and expect.” With student-created theatre, Schroeter says, “you can cast more diversely, and the tools you are giving students are much bigger because you are training them as story tellers.” Other teachers in her study, she says, “are aware of the issues, and are trying to address stereotyping and problematic representational practices by having conversations with their students about it and by not letting the problems disappear.”

So far, Schroeter says, “my research is reinforcing what I already know about the value of arts education—giving students the tools to come together and make and create original art.”

Journey of Becoming a (Trans-multi)culturally Responsive Educator

Dr. Latika Raisinghani is a lecturer in science and environmental education at the Faculty of Education

Exponential growth in student diversity, the challenges posed by the current COVID-19 pandemic, and recent racial injustices in Canadian and global society, demand that we continue to explore ways to stimulate ongoing conversation and action that may invite education that is responsive to the needs of diverse students.

My journey to inquire about such an education began with exploring what culture is, how we define cultural diversity, and what culturally responsive education means in a multicultural country such as Canada. My doctoral study at the University of British Columbia exposed me to the complexities inherent in various dimensions of cultural diversity, the structural systemic inequities embedded in the education systems, and the politics of education that continue to marginalize many culturally diverse students in diversity-rich classrooms of Canada. What could be possible ways to respond to student diversity?

Informed by my doctoral research with K-12 teachers in Vancouver schools, I have conceptualized a (trans-multi)culturally responsive education framework as one way to do so. Amalgamating critical and transformational multicultural education perspectives and culturally responsive teaching, this framework invites educators to engage in critical self-reflective inquiries and initiate complicated conversations to interrogate the hidden curricula, recognize Other(ed) cultural knowledges (that are missing), and welcome multiplicity of lived experiences. Acknowledging culture as a dynamic way of life and cultural diversity as all cultural experiences that a student may bring into schools, a (trans-multi)culturally responsive education calls educators to cultivate critical cultural consciousness, embrace relational caring and develop empathetic relationships that may promote wholistic, socially-just, inclusive education, which cherishes diversity and engages with difference with solidarity and critique.

My efforts to invite educators in this transformational learning journey include organizing provincial professional development workshops for Ontario school principals and British Columbia teachers. As a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina, I am continuing these efforts to invite (trans-multi)culturally responsive education through my engagements in teaching science and environmental education courses that focus on Indigeneity and responsiveness. My initiatives include contributing to the Fall 2020 Treaty 4 Gathering and co-initiating a Centre for Educational Research, Collaboration, and Development approved Knowledge Mobilization Project with Dr. Xia Ji on culturally responsive leadership for school leaders and administrators in Regina. Becoming a (trans-multi)culturally responsive educator is a life-long ideological and pedagogical commitment which necessitates what Mahatma Gandhi emphasized: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” So, my journey of becoming a (trans-multi)culturally responsive educator continues, and I invite you to join me in this life-long journey.

By Dr. Latika Raininghani, Lecturer in the Faculty of Education